- Associated Press - Friday, January 1, 2016

SUSSEX, N.J. (AP) - Former New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus has died.

Family members say Kuperus died of cancer Wednesday at his Sussex home. He was 57.

Kuperus served on the Sussex County Board of Agriculture, the New Jersey Farm Bureau and the State Planning Commission. He was named agriculture secretary in 2002 by Gov. James McGreevey and served until 2008, overseeing the preservation of more than 1,100 farms and 85,000 acres of farmland throughout the state.

Kuperus was born in Sussex and grew up on a family dairy farm. He founded Kuperus Farmside Gardens in 1979.

Besides his state posts, Kuperus also served on the Sussex Borough Council and the Sussex County Board of Freeholders.

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